BEIJING — As Singapore and China upgrade their bilateral ties , both countries on Saturday (April 1) inked several agreements to further cooperation on a range of issues, such as food security, technological research and environmental conservation.
Both sides also announced an enhanced “All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented” partnership to reflect their desire to set the strategic direction as well as chart the development of bilateral relations with each other, Singapore and China said in a joint statement.
The statement follows a series of meetings between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with China President Xi Jinping and other high profile Chinese officials on Friday.On Saturday, Mr Lee also met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang.
Mr Xi noted that China wants to work with Singapore to develop not just the relationship between both countries, but also the level of cooperation in various fields to “obtain new achievements”.
The joint statement said China and Singapore plan to strengthen their bilateral cooperation with a “high-quality” and “future-oriented” approach, expanding collaborations in areas like trade, investment, green and digital economies, food security, financial sector, aviation, as well as to unlock new growth opportunities in new fields like digital transformation.
To this end, delegations from both nations inked six memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on Saturday.Another MOU on the cooperation between Singapore and Beijing and people-to-people exchanges was signed on Friday.
Here is a list of what the seven agreements signed during Mr Lee’s week-long visit to China encompass:
1 .FOOD SAFETY AND SUPPLY CHAIN RESILIENCE To be overseen by the Singapore Food Agency and Enterprise Singapore, the MOU on the cooperation in import and export food safety seeks to safeguard Singapore and China’s food security and strengthen supply chain resilience Under the MOU, both countries have agreed to exchange information on both countries’ food safety regulatory frameworks and policies, and to strengthen bilateral cooperation in food trade There will also be high-level dialogues to drive cooperation in food safety and food trade 2.
MANAGEMENT OF COMMERCIAL DISPUTES LINKED TO BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE The MOU, which was inked by Singapore’s Supreme Court and China’s Supreme People’s Court, allow both courts to cooperate on the management of international commercial disputes related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) To deal with such disputes, each court will develop and implement what has been termed as a “litigation-mediation-litigation” framework Under this framework, Singapore and China will manage BRI disputes through their respective international commercial courts Furthermore, it will be facilitated by either a domestic or foreign mediation expert, as well as a domestic, foreign or international mediation institution 3.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN WATER AND ENVIRONMENT Singapore and China will commit to the support of two joint flagship projects in the fields of water and environment, in order to promote research and development, and nurture Singaporean and Chinese research talent It also hopes to contribute to science and research capability building in both countries The MOU was inked by the National Research Foundation Singapore and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology The first project, which involves National University of Singapore and Tiangong University, is to develop membranes to achieve seawater desalination with lower energy consumption, and adsorption resins for recovery of valuable metals from the desalination process The second project, which involves Nanyang Technological University and Yangtze River Innovation Centre for Ecological Civilization, aims to develop an integrated biotechnology-membrane system to achieve a more carbon-efficient wastewater treatment process and recovery of valuable minerals from domestic and industrial wastewater 4.CULTURAL AND ARTISTIC EXCHANGES The MOU between National Arts Council Singapore and China National Arts Fund seeks to foster greater cultural and artistic exchanges between China and Singapore, and promote collaboration among artists and arts groups from both countries.Three broad areas of cooperation were spelled out in the MOU.
The first involves capability and skills development opportunities in either China or Singapore for artists and institutions from both countries, which includes, but are not limited to, residencies, exchanges, workshops, and masterclasses The second pertains to artistic collaboration opportunities between artists from China and Singapore to create new work that can be showcased in China, Singapore or other countries The third aspect involves bilateral exchanges of China National Arts Fund and National Arts Council staff to facilitate the development of projects and skills exchange The MOU will expire in April 2026 5.WETLAND AND MANGROVE CONSERVATION The MOU between Singapore’s National Parks Board and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration will cover the following areas Research and exchange programmes for researchers and staff in the field of reducing pressure from urbanisation and spurring mangrove conservation Joint exchange of information and expertise related to the conservation and sustainable use of small wetlands Cooperation in relation to the ex-situ conservation, a type of conservation strategy, of wild plants within and around wetland areas Organisation of joint conferences and workshops, as well as other exchanges and collaborations agreed to by two agencies 6.SINGAPORE-BEIJING COOPERATION The MOU to strengthen the cooperation between Singapore and China’s capital, as well as people-to-people exchanges, was inked on Friday by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Singapore’s ambassador to China, and Mayor of Beijing Yin Yong The agreement is an affirmation of the close and friendly relations between Singapore and Beijing, and aims to benefit the people of Singapore and Beijing This would bring benefits to the fields of economy and trade, science and technology, education, culture, and urban governance, among others 7.CHINA-SINGAPORE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT Both countries also welcomed the “substantive conclusion of the China‑Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) Work Programme for Subsequent Negotiations” The CSFTA came into effect in 2009, with the first review of the agreement completed in 2011.Negotiations for an upgraded CSFTA began in 2015 The latest development means that both countries have completed negotiations and are finalising the legal documents before the signing of the final agreement, which is expected to take place this year Once it is eventually ratified, the statement said the CSFTA is expected to provide for “more business-friendly, liberal, and transparent rules”, as well as improve the market access for businesses from both countries to trade and invest in each other’s markets STRONGER RELATIONS WITH ASEAN, SUPPORT FOR MULTILATERALISM The joint statement also reaffirmed the continued strengthening of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-China relations, and cooperation under the Asean-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
“Singapore welcomes China’s support for the importance of maintaining Asean centrality in the evolving regional architecture,” the statement said.
It added that both countries will “work together for the effective implementation” of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.
Formally signed in 2020, RCEP is the world’s largest free trade agreement whose members make up about 30 per cent of global economy and about a third of the world’s population.It has 15 members, including Singapore, China, Australia and Japan.
The statement added that Singapore and China will also work together on advance preparations for the further enhancement of the Asean-China Free Trade Area to “drive mutually beneficial economic growth” with the region.
Both sides also reaffirmed their shared commitment to multilateralism, support for the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and adherence to international law.
“China and Singapore will continue to work together to uphold the rules‑based multilateral trading system as embodied by the World Trade Organisation, maintain an open and inclusive global economy, and ensure the stable and smooth operation of global supply chains,” said the statement.
“(This is) to jointly meet global challenges and make economic globalisation more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all.”.